To one degree or another, we all live with regret. I think I experienced less regret in my early years because I worked so tirelessly at being perfect (and of course I failed, but I was not as aware of my shortcomings as I am now) and ended up with less to apologize for. Now I feel like I have loosened up my expectations on myself, which gives me more freedom, but also provides more opportunities to make mistakes, and therefore experience regret.
It's hard to face our limitations. We cannot meet the needs of everyone in our lives. It's simply not possible. There are boundaries we must live within to protect ourselves and the needs of our immediate family and friends. We have to learn to say no. This is very hard for me. I think I'm getting better, and then I fall right back into the trap that I'm not doing enough and am therefore falling behind in my own sense of self-worth and value.
I'm understanding that regret is an emotion I will feel sometimes, and if I am brave enough to look at it, I might be able to learn something which will help me in the future. I don't want to make the same mistakes over and over again, and I don't want to be so careful with my heart that I won't risk being hurt in relationships. I hurt others and they hurt me. It's part of the human experience.
I know it feels good to admit where I have failed, and I recognize that I can't go back and change things. I can apologize, and try to move forward, but words get said which lodge in the soul, and can never be taken back. Time heals all things, and lessens the sting of what hurts us in the moment, and I have that to look forward to. But it doesn't help with fresh regret when things don't go our way.
It always takes two to tango, and it's never fully one person's fault. I'm learning to perform my part of the relationship dance and leave some of the steps to the other person. It's hard because it means I'm giving up some control, but relationships are meant to be multi-faceted and more than one dimension. I have to play my part, and let the other person play theirs.
I don't know if it ever gets easier. Sometimes it feels like flying, where the skies are clear and the way is smooth and easy. Other times you are in the middle of a storm, and you can't see more than an inch in front of your face, and you feel afraid and unsure of what comes next. I guess we just do the best we can, and try to let go of what we can't control, and realize that if grace doesn't exist in our relationships, none of us would be able to carry on.